What to watch for in Friday's EURO qualifiers

Preview: Spain and Slovakia can confirm their finals places, England can stay on target for a perfect qualifying campaign, while Russia are out to close the door on Sweden.

A win against Luxembourg would dispel any lingering doubt for Spain
A win against Luxembourg would dispel any lingering doubt for Spain ©AFP/Getty Images

Group C
Slovakia's champagne on ice
"It has been a long time since so many were asking for an autograph or selfie," defender Ján Ďurica said after Slovakia's players met with fans in a Bratislava shopping centre on Monday. Ján Kozák's side picked up just one point from their two September qualifiers, but the nation is obviously with them as they seek the win that would confirm their first trip to a UEFA European Championship.

The second-placed Slovaks have a superior head-to-head record in games against Ukraine in third. Already guaranteed at least a play-off berth, Kozák's men will qualify automatically provided they can maintain or extend their three-point lead over Ukraine in this match.
Slovakia v Belarus: 20.45CET

Drulović warns Ukraine
Three defeats in as many outings, bottom position and early elimination may not have been the ideal start for new FYR Macedonia coach Ljubinko Drulović since his April appointment but he is confident they can challenge Ukraine – who are desperate for victory to keep alive their hopes of catching second-ranked Slovakia.

"Although we have failed to get a positive result in recent matches, I feel we are moving in the right direction for the future," said Drulović. "We played some good football against Spain, we concentrated on our tasks and we fought throughout the match. Now we just need to keep the same approach. It's going to be a tough game against Ukraine, but we will give everything to win. I believe this team can get results."
FYR Macedonia v Ukraine: 20.45CET

Milestones for Spain and Fàbregas
The game against Luxembourg will be Spain's 150th UEFA European Championship fixture. Vicente del Bosque's team will qualify with a win. Midfielder Cesc Fàbregas, meanwhile, will reach a century of caps should he feature against both Luc Holtz's side and Ukraine. The Chelsea midfielder is just 28.

Athletic Club's Xabier Etxeita and Villarreal's Mario Gaspar have received maiden call-ups for the match, with Sergio Ramos willing the European champions to confirm their finals place in his absence.
Spain v Luxembourg: 20.45CET

Group E
Slovenia, Lithuania's crunch game
Slovenia's 3-2 loss in Switzerland has left them three points off second spot yet their automatic qualification chances remain alive and England are the only team to beat them in their last six competitive home games. Lithuania are not out of contention either and are expected to take a cautious approach while Slovenia are desperate for three points, with coach Srečko Katanec eager for some flair from his charges.

Katanec will almost certainly have to do without striker Milivoje Novakovič, who has a collarbone injury – and is just four goals shy of equalling the Slovenia record of 35 held by Zlatko Zahovič. Lithuania coach Igoris Pankratjevas welcomes back fit-again Vytautas Andriuškevičius.
Slovenia v Lithuania: 20.45CET

Gary Cahill will captain England against Estonia
Gary Cahill will captain England against Estonia©Getty Images

England close to perfection
The first side to qualify for the finals, Roy Hodgson's England have little to prove as they take on Estonia, but they are on target to become only the sixth team to win all of their UEFA European Championship qualifiers, following in the footsteps of France (eight victories out of eight, EURO '92 and UEFA EURO 2004), the Czech Republic (ten out of ten, UEFA EURO 2000), Germany (ten, UEFA EURO 2012), and Spain (eight, UEFA EURO 2012).

Chelsea defender Gary Cahill will captain England in the absence of the injured Wayne Rooney, though the Manchester United striker will be at Wembley regardless, since he is due to receive a commemorative golden boot from Sir Bobby Charlton to mark scoring his 50th goal – and breaking Sir Bobby's England record.
England v Estonia: 20.45CET

Group G
Dzyuba on goal trail

Russia's Artem Dzyuba has his sights on chasing down the leading marksman in this qualifying campaign, Robert Lewandowski. Dzyuba has seven goals and will look to boost his tally against Moldova. After a slow start, Russia have rallied under Leonid Slutski, winning both games since the CSKA Moskva coach took over, and victories in Moldova and at home to Montenegro would carry them to France – and leave Sweden battling for a play-off slot.

Artem Dzyuba has scored seven goals for Russia
Artem Dzyuba has scored seven goals for Russia©AFP/Getty Images

However, when he spoke to UEFA.com, goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev was adamant that the pressure was still on. "Playing for the national team is twice as hard in terms of pressure," he said. "Everyone loves you when things are going well, then some difficulties come and half the country turns against you and slings mud at you. So we don't want to disappoint anyone. We just want to win two games nicely and go to France."
Moldova v Russia: 20.45CET

Top